Estes Park Elk
YouTube: Chris Hazelton

Estes Park Elk Have Had Enough of Tourist Season

After Yellowstone, we'd like to nominate Estes Park, Colorado, as the number two spot in the world for stupid tourist behavior. The town became a spot on the map since it had easy access to the immensely popular Rocky Mountain National Park. But you don't need to wander into the park to see the wildlife. A healthy elk population lives within the city limits, and they walk around yards, businesses, and parks like oversized squirrels, which would be fine if elk were as docile as squirrels. But squirrels don't attack.

Every year, this town is inundated with tourists who don't seem to understand that elk are wild animals capable of unpredictable behavior. We suspect that because the elk don't immediately run away, some people mistake the town for a zoo or think the elk are friendly.

As a result, you have incidents like this video where a massive group of tourists repeatedly approaches a large bull elk and his cows. The bull doesn't want the humans there, and the elk charges at one point. It doesn't matter. The tourists keep invading the personal space of the elk. They were hoping for a cool photo for social media but ended up on the local news.

We don't know what to say anymore. There's a dangerous disconnect between humans and nature these days. It's a wonder nature doesn't thin the herd of us more often. When the woman warned that group of people, the closest to the bull only took maybe one or two steps back. Trust us, that's not going to be enough space if that bull decides to turn and charge.

Charging Bull Elk in late evening light shot with telephoto lens in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina.

Look at how mad he is. And this was shot from far away! Photosbyjam via Getty Images

The fact that no one was stomped, gored, maimed, or killed throughout this elk attack video seems like a miracle. These people were way too close to these animals. The National Park Service states you should always stay at least 25 yards away from elk to be safe. None of the people in this video likely heard that advice from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) rangers or wildlife officials, and we suspect most of them were probably there to visit the National Park.

If you still have a trip to Estes Park or any natural area where elk, moose, deer, bison, black bears, or wolves are present for your summer vacation, please observe them safely at a distance. We don't want to see anyone risking their lives over a silly selfie with some threatening antlers.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, follow him on Twitter and Instagram. Check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels for original videos